* It's Time For The EPA To Clean Up Its Starlink Mess
* Unknown Soybean DNA
* Soybean Growers: Roundup Ready Soybean Story ‘Old News’
* Greenpeace Cries 'Again'
* The Safety Nazis: Precautionaries shrug off the burden of proof
* Making Room for Farming and Wildlife In Africa
* Lobbying For Safe Biotechnology
* Record Peanut Production by Farmers Using Mutants
* Researchers Examine Feasibility of Wheat-Based Edible Vaccine
* Viral Transgenes
* Global Governance: A Recipe for Global Protectionism
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It's Time For The EPA To Clean Up Its Starlink Mess
-David Erickson, Chicago Tribune, August 19, 2001
The controversial StarLink corn, which found its way into the human food supply even though it was only approved for animal feed, is on its way out, and good riddance. The question is: Will it take farmers and food processors with it?
The Environmental Protection Agency, which messed up big time in granting a feed-only approval, now has enough data to give foods containing StarLink legal status. If the agency would approve trace levels in food, farmers could sell their grain without worrying about whether it contained traces of StarLink. Food companies would not have to issue recalls every time some activist group tested a taco chip for unapproved proteins, and the whole country could move on.
A science advisory panel tells the EPA it does not have enough evidence to say with certainty whether low levels of StarLink could cause allergies. But we know enough already to say that low levels of StarLink pose minimal risk to health. In contrast, we know that traces of unapproved StarLink pose major risk to farmers' markets and food processors' businesses. It's time to grant a tolerance for trace levels in corn products until all StarLink can be cleared out of the system.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that no one reporting allergic reactions to StarLink corn showed the signs of such a reaction in his or her blood. And now we find that there was a good reason for that--none of the food samples that the people blamed for their allergic reactions showed any presence of StarLink. In fact, for all the headlines, activist positioning, recalls and loss of markets, no illness has been linked to StarLink after nearly a year. Now that StarLink has been pulled from the market, levels in food will only decrease until all traces are gone.
It all started last September when a consumer group tested some taco shells and found a small amount of protein from StarLink corn, which was developed to ward off insects without the use of chemical insecticides. However, because StarLink was not immediately broken down in digestion studies the way non-allergenic proteins are, the EPA wanted more data before approving food uses. Some of the grain that should have been segregated for animal feed got mixed with other grain, and StarLink protein ended up in tacos and many other corn products.
Some of the country's leading allergy experts went on record saying that there was very little risk that StarLink would cause any harm. They said that people develop allergies only after continued exposure to relatively high levels of allergy-causing proteins. Given the very low levels of StarLink in processed foods, there was little chance of people developing antigens that lead to allergic reactions. Studies have shown that the StarLink protein did not resemble known allergens, so it probably isn't an allergen anyway.
All of that was good reason to maintain calm when the story broke. Of course, that's not what happened. The entire food-scare playbook was used, from alleged victims to press conferences to headlines to recalls to embargoes. A multimillion-dollar fiasco ensued.
But who gets the blame? It starts with EPA and Aventis, the developer of StarLink. Both were naive to believe that all the StarLink corn would go for feed uses. By proceeding with the half-registration of StarLink, they risked undermining public confidence in the regulatory system while increasing public concern over biotechnology.
Anti-biotechnology groups saw an opportunity and exploited it for all of its worth. They implied that the regulatory system was broken. They gladly overstated the possible risk of low-level exposure to the StarLink protein and looked for additional products with traces of StarLink. The news media played the StarLink story for full headline value. Most abandoned their responsibility to fully explain the science and provide perspective on risk.
And now scientists may refuse to let common sense put this issue to rest. There is no evidence that StarLink causes allergies, but scientists want to see proof that it won't. Logical people should be able to see what a year of experience has shown: that StarLink at low levels doesn't make people sick. The only good thing to come from this issue is the fact that the biotech industry and EPA learned a very painful lesson, and both have sworn off any more split registrations. So we can be assured that no more biotech crops will be approved without full food clearance. This will strengthen an already rigorous regulatory process.
The EPA ought to thank the advisory panel for its time, weigh the risks to health and commerce, and then make the right decision. It is time to clean up the mess the EPA and Aventis caused. Certainly not to forgive Aventis for its foul-up, but to get this phony food scare off the backs of farmers and food processors so we can get on with our business.
David Erickson produces corn and soybeans on his farm near Altona, Ill. He is past president and past chairman of the board of the American Soybean Association.
Unknown Soybean DNA
AP/Dow Jones via Agnet
The scientist who discovered that the DNA pattern in genetically engineered soybeans differs from normal soybeans said on Thursday that his findings are not cause for concern. Marc de Loose rejected calls by the environmental group Greenpeace to suspend safety approval of the product, Monsanto Co.'s Roundup Ready soybeans, the world's most widely grown genetically modified crop.
De Loose, a plant geneticist at the Center for Agricultural Research in Melle, Belgium and a food safety adviser to the Belgian government, said, "I have no scientific data that we have to be afraid of," and said of Greenpeace's description of the research, "That's not the correct interpretation."
A Greenpeace scientist said that the concern over the newly described genetic pattern is that it might affect the functioning of other important genes in the soybean and might have altered its composition.
Janet Bainbridge, director of the School of Science and Technology at Teeside University in England, says, "That's just ridiculous. We do know the downstream effect. That's why we have the regulatory process. We know far, far more about GM DNA than we do the non-GM crops." De Loose's findings were examined by food safety experts in Belgium and Britain more than a year ago and neither country changed its mind.
Soybean Growers: Roundup Ready Soybean Story ‘Old News’
- Julianne Johnston, AgWeb News
The American Soybean Association says news reports about "mystery DNA" in Roundup Ready Soybeans is nothing more than old news. The group says in May, EU officials were notified about the extra base pairs by Monsanto Company.
"None of the EU states expressed any concern with the discovery of extra base pairs in Roundup Ready Soybeans or its impact on food safety," says the American Soybean Association (ASA). "We have known about this genetic information for more than fourteen months," said ASA President Bart Ruth. "This is nothing more than the latest attempt by anti-biotechnology organizations to try to cast doubts and create concerns where none actually exist."
ASA began receiving calls following a story published in the New York Times last week that claimed Belgian scientists had discovered "mysterious" DNA in Roundup Ready soybeans.
In a follow-up story published by Reuters News Service, the Belgian scientists who conducted the research said all data concerning the safety of crops from Roundup Ready soybean varieties remain valid, and that the gene sequence in the product is stable and will not lead to any unknown or unpredictable problems. One of the scientists strongly refuted assertions by an environmental group that his research indicated that Roundup Ready soybeans are unsafe, says ASA.
"It is well known and reported in scientific literature that some type of rearrangement occurs to accommodate a new gene during insertion through biotechnology," says ASA. "The same or more severe rearrangements take place in conventional soybean breeding."
Greenpeace Cries 'Again'
Center For Global Food Issues, http://www.cgfi.org
CHURCHVILLE, Va., Aug. 20 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following is a statement released today by the Center for Global Food Issues: Greenpeace is claiming another danger from genetically-engineered soybeans, although even they can't say exactly what the danger might be. Belgian scientists recently published a more detailed sequence of DNA in biotech Roundup Ready soybeans, including some bits of "junk" DNA that Greenpeace says represent "unknown" but potentially serious health and environmental hazards.
Greenpeace is wrong again. About 70 percent of the DNA in any soybean is non-coding "junk DNA." The Belgian analysis of Roundup Ready soybean DNA is virtually identical to the DNA sequence of the beans given by Monsanto to Federal regulators years ago. These varieties -- and this DNA -- have been fully scrutinized through an extensive battery of health and environmental safety tests. There is no evidence of human health or environmental problems from any of it.
Moreover, it is natural and common to find non-coding DNA sequences where genetic rearrangements have occurred, including in natural DNA rearrangements such as cross breeding. We must add this latest false biotech alarm to Greenpeace's earlier cries of "wolf": that genetic engineering of crops would cause new and dangerous food allergies (it hasn't) and that biotech corn would endanger the Monarch butterfly (Monarch's are thriving, and field research say the biotech-protected corn is much safer for Monarchs than the alternative of pesticide sprays).
The recent "discovery" of inactive genetic fragments in biotechnology-improved soybeans is no mystery. This is the language used by political activists who seek to create public fear to promote alternative agendas. The real mystery is why we continue to pay attention when activist groups cry, "wolf." --- The non-profit Center for Global Food Issues conducts research and analysis of agriculture and the environmental concerns surrounding food and fiber production. The Center uses its worldwide overview of food and farming to assess policies, improve farmers' understanding of the new globalized farm economy, and heighten awareness of the environmental impacts of various farming systems and food policies.
The Safety Nazis: Precautionaries shrug off the burden of proof
- Bonner R. Cohen; American Spectator, Jul/Aug2001, Vol. 34 Issue 6, p16, 2p.
The European Union bans certain American beef, without proof of harm. The European Parliament slaps tough new regs on genetically modified food, despite the potential for cheaper, more nutritious crops. A U.S. environmental movement seeks to ban lifesaving plastic blood bags, transfusion equipment and other medical devices. What gives?
A strange new doctrine fundamentally at odds with science is making inroads in the most scientifically advanced countries in the world. Advocates call it "the precautionary principle:"
The influential Science and Environment Health Network (SEHN) defined the principle this way: "When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically."
To the untrained ear, it sounds reassuring. But by separating the alleged "threats of harm" from "cause-and-effect relationships" the precautionary principle replaces scientific standards with innuendo. Precautionaries would burden innovators with the impossible requirement to prove a negative, the absence of any possibility of harm. Moreover, by raising "do no harm" to an absolute, precautionaries exclude from consideration the public-health risks of failing to produce or innovate. It's a perversion of "Better safe than sorry" notes Hugh Wise, a scientist in Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water. "The application of junk science to phantom risks to make them seem plausible"
In Europe, the precautionary principle first gained ground in the late '80s. The 1989 Nordic Council's International Conference on the Pollution of the Seas, for example, called for eliminating alleged pollutants "even where there is inadequate or inconclusive scientific evidence to prove a causal link between emissions and effects."
Today, EC regulators use the precautionary principle to crack down on foods made from gene-spliced plants. Faced with an outbreak of mad cow disease, the EC banned imports of healthy U.S. and Canadian beef because hormone-fed cattle "may" cause endocrine disruption. Protectionism masquerading as consumer protection? The ban remains even though the World Trade Organization found the EC's arguments scientifically lacking.
In tech-happy America, the precautionary principle has taken longer to gain a foothold. The turning point may well have been the 1998 Wingspread conference, a gathering of 31 activists from five countries. Wingspread's grim visionaries took an array of maladies, from cancer to climate change, as proof that scientific proof is dispensable. As one of Wingspread's organizers, SEHN coordinator Carolyn Raffensperger, wrote with Joel Tickner, the "burden of scientific proof has posed a monumental barrier in the campaign to protect health and the environment"
Relieving themselves of the burden of truth is the goal of the muscular new anti-science environmentalism energized by Wingspread. Plastics are one major target. For over 20 years, Greenpeace has spearheaded efforts to ban polyvinyl chloride (PVC, or vinyl). First, it fingered dioxin emissions when medical waste is incinerated. Then it sought to incite mothers' fears against phthalates (the chemicals used to make vinyl soft) in baby bottles and rubber duckies. A November 1998 Greenpeace report, "Warning: Children at Risk, Toxic Chemicals Found in Vinyl Children's Products" provoked enough media frenzy to prompt manufacturers, including Toys "R" Us, to pledge to phase out some products.
The plastics industry, in its defense, pointed to the widespread use of vinyl in medical devices, such as IV tubing. "For years, the industry has defended PVC by saying it's safe enough to use in medical products. Pretty soon, they won't have that defense any more" proclaimed Gary Cohen, national coordinator for Health Care Without Harm, unleashing a national campaign against vinyl medical devices. In February 1999, HCWH released a "Health Care Alert" in which it claimed that the phthalate (DEHP) in vinyl could leach from IV bags and tubing into blood or medications "being administered into a patient's veins." HCWH could produce no case of this actually having occurred, but for precautionaries, the absence of fact is no bar to fear.
In June 1999, a blue-ribbon panel of 17 scientists and physicians chaired by former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop concluded that "DEHP, as used in medical devices, is not harmful to humans even under chronic or higher-than-average exposure." Koop elaborated in the Wall Street Journal, "Without DEHP, a wide range of life-saving medical devices--such as blood bags, catheters (cardiac and urinary), and a variety of surgical instruments and gadgets--would lack either the flexibility, transparency or shelf life to be of much use." Cohen, however, cites an EU panel identifying DEHP as a hazardous substance, based not on the use of medical devices, but on experiments with rats fed enormous doses of DEHP.
Once the precautionary principle takes hold, regulators have no obvious place to draw the line between real and imaginary health risks. Absent scientific rules of evidence, how does government decide what kind of association between a product and a harm justifies precautionary measures? An essentially random regulatory standard creates an intolerable climate of uncertainty for producers, a regulatory world where public anxiety, fueled by faux science, could trigger intervention at any time. If precautionaries can target lifesaving equipment used in hospitals for 40 years, no product is safe.
Rebuffed so far at the federal level, precautionaries are taking aim at state legislatures, hoping to fly under the radar of more sophisticated national political and scientific scrutiny. In Massachusetts, for example, a coalition of environmental and breast cancer groups has launched the Massachusetts Precautionary Principle Project. Sharon Koshar, of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, worries about toxic triggers for breast cancer that "can't be quantified or qualified." The precautionary principle, she tells me, "is a brilliant idea which will provide protection from such exposures."
A pending bill in the Massachusetts state legislature (sponsored by a Wingspread participant) codifies the precautionary principle, requiring state officials to "take action to prevent potential harm to health or the environment, even when the nature and magnitude of the harmful effects are not fully understood." Similar precautionary projects are underway in Minnesota and New Jersey.
The precautionary principle institutionalizes the idea that the risks of doing nothing are always less than the risks of doing something, that change, growth and invention are inherently dangerous, while apathy and inertia are not. Building a power plant may introduce risk, however small and speculative. Meanwhile, failing to build plants creates dangerous power failures. A new Pataki administration report says even brief electricity interruptions in New York "will expose people to extreme temperatures, unyielding traffic congestion and even trap many people in elevators." Blackouts could lead to mass looting, stalled subways, vandalism, and "social unrest." The failure of traffic lights, refrigerators, Security systems and air conditioners could cost lives. (Up to 150 heat-related deaths occurred in 1999.)
In the less-developed countries the precautionaries' threat to human health is massive, blocking new plant varieties that could feed malnourished millions. "Denying these hungry people the fruits of modern agricultural biotechnology, in the name of a doctrine based not on science but on speculation, is utterly irresponsible," says Henry Miller, founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology, now with the Hoover Institution.
Proponents of the precautionary principle are fond of referring to it as a "speed bump" to new technology. Fair enough. In the wrong place, speed bumps kill.
Making Room for Farming and Wildlife In Africa
- Dennis T. Avery, Hudson Institute; BridgeNews
'Africa Has To Use Its Farmland More Intensively If The Continent Is To Retain Its Unique Wildlife Diversity'
CHURCHVILLE, Va.--"Improvement in the way that farmers manage their natural resources can allow many different wild species to find homes within and around farms with no reductions and sometimes with increases in crop yields," says a new report, "Common Ground, Common Future: How Ecoagriculture Can Help Feed the World and Save Wild Biodiversity."
It's a joint effort by two important international conservation groups: The World Conservation Union in Switzerland, which includes a wide variety of government agencies from both First and Third Worlds, along with 10,000 conservation scientists and more than 700 non-government organizations. Future Harvest represents 16 Third World agricultural research centers seeking ways to simultaneously increase crop yields, improve farming sustainability and conserve wildlife habitat. The ecoagriculture they jointly recommend would focus on higher yields to save more room for nature, reducing agricultural pollution, and linking wildlife habitat on farms to wildlife populations in forests and wildlife preserves.
In central California, farmers in an earlier era converted wetlands to rice production, pre-empting the habitat of many bird species. Now rice farmers have discovered that by flooding their fields during the fallow season, their farms can again be habitat for many species of songbirds, ducks and cranes. The flooding helps the farmer by decomposing waste straw and controlling weeds and diseases. Researchers have found the flooded fallow rice fields provide nearly as much food for the birds as natural wetlands and with fewer predators. Some of the rice farms are now being managed jointly with restored natural wetlands to provide year-round wildlife habitat for key bird species.
In Zimbabwe, local farmers have found a low-cost "natural" way to get the high yields of irrigated farming. Instead of building costly dams and irrigation canals, the farmers fence off irrigated gardens in shallow, seasonally waterlogged depressions called "dambos." Researchers say the dambo yields twice as much as mechanically irrigated land, at far less cost. Nor does dambo cultivation mine the groundwater or reduce downstream flows. Nearly 20,000 hectares of Zambian dambos are already cultivated, with a potential for up to 80,000 hectares mainly in the poor communal farming areas. Similar wetlands are found in Malawi, South Africa, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Africa no longer has room for the long 15- to 20-year bush fallows that formerly supplied the soil nutrients for its farmers.
Africa must now use its farmland more intensively, as the world's other farmers have done, if it's to retain its unique wildlife diversity. Fortunately, researchers are developing short-duration fallows that feature fast-growing trees and shrubs. Some of the trees and shrubs are legumes that put nitrogen back into the soil. In eastern Zambia, 3,000 farmers have begun using an improved two-year fallow that nearly triples annual net farm income from their staple maize crop. In western Kenya, several thousand farmers increased yields 21 percent by using one-season shrub fallows, which give better economic returns than continuous cropping because the farmers don't have to buy fertilizer. Preserving some fallow land is also important to nesting birds and small mammals, even if the fallow periods are short. The World Conservation Union-Future Harvest report also notes that "In impoverished soils, such as many found in Africa, some chemical fertilizer is often needed in combination with organic nutrients to build
In Chiapas, Mexico, farmers are getting assistance payments to shift from an unsustainable pattern of extensive fallow that demands regular forest-clearing to sustainable agroforestry systems. The payments come from the International Federation of Automobiles, to offset the greenhouse gas emissions of its car races! The report warns that international aid to Third World agricultural research has fallen dramatically in the past 15 years. Too many people fear that more food will mean more overpopulation, although we live in the first era when more food has meant lower birth rates and better diets for kids. The challenge for preserving wildlife, meanwhile, has never been greater.
"I had no idea of the scale that habitat change is taking place," says report coauthor Sara Sherr of the University of Maryland. Nor is there any real way to preserve wildlife species if we ignore the 2.5 billion farm families living close to the wildlife, or fail to make more effective use of the 37 percent of the earth's land area already being farmed and pastured. That's the message from the World Conservation Union and Future Harvest.
Lobbying For Safe Biotechnology
- Philippine Daily Inquirer 18 Aug 2001
What would you rather have-crops raised with pesticide or crops that are genetically modified? Biotechnology advocates say untreated corn with rotten kernels produce molds that create aflatoxin, the strongest known carcinogen on earth. Aflatoxin can also be found on untreated peanuts.
Pesticides and insecticides find their way to the human body. Some pesticides stay potent for a considerable length of time and linger in the environment and are absorbed by lower life forms. These, in turn, are eaten by more complex organisms in the food chain such as fish, cattle, hogs and poultry. Then we eat these animals. The pesticides in the treated plants have eventually found their way to our bodies and even to mothers' milk. This cycle is hypothesized to be one of the main causes for the rapid increase in human generations that contract diseases like cancer. (The concept is from Rachel Carson's book "Silent Springs." )
Other pesticides possess certain cyclic compounds that mimic male hormones. With continued absorption of particular molecules, nature will produce more hermaphrodites (organisms that possess both male and female sexual characteristics). Eagles, sharks and whales become hermaphrodites and essentially lose the urge to reproduce. (From "Our Stolen Future" by Theo Colburn.) Let's not just talk about "gay" animals driven to extinction. How about human hunger, ask the pro-biotechnology advocates. How can Mother Nature by herself address the billions of hungry people all over the world? Can conventional agricultural and scientific methods save the lives of people in need of urgent solutions?
These were just some of the issues raised by scientist Dr. Benigno Peczon, president of the recently launched Biotechnology Conference of the Philippines, a multisectoral group lobbying for the safe and responsible use of modern biotechnology in the country. The BCP is composed of Filipino scientists from the fields of agriculture, medicine, genetics and molecular biology and from local farm organizations, national research councils and institutions.
Biotechnology as a "double-bladed sword" is now a "sharper" issue than ever. And amid strong opposition from groups that call genetically modified food as "Frankenstein food," Filipino scientists are asking Filipinos not to object to the technology without first studying and understanding it.
Dr. Emil Javier, technical adviser to the Food and Agriculture Organization, said that if biotechnology were anti-human, then scientists wouldn't have wanted to be associated with it in the first place. "People working in this science have reputations to uphold. I am an agriculturist. I do not want myself to be associated (with something) that will turn out to be poison later," said Javier. Removing our dependence from pesticides, increased food production for the malnourished and developing medicines are some of the benefits that biotechnology is touted to bring.
The BCP is pushing for a national policy and regulatory framework for biotech products that would promote the safe and responsible use of biotechnology. Meanwhile, the FAO announced that applied biotechnology has already led to increases in production and productivity in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Biotechnology, it said, has also created organisms that could clean up oil and heavy metal spills in fragile ecosystems. Modified tissue cultures have resulted in increased crop yields for farmers.
Medical biotechnology, the FAO said, is likewise finding ways to cure certain forms of cancers and develop vaccines for debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer's, arthritis and asthma. Peczon said drugs developed through biotechnology would be cheaper and would be developed faster because of recent developments in the mapping of the human genome.
He said: "We have the whole DNA sequence. We will be able to find out what the actual target will be. Drug development using biotechnology will be a lot cheaper, and will take only half the time (to develop). The side effects will be much less, compared to some drugs today." "People are dying of dengue, malaria and tuberculosis in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. Why don't we get together and find a solution to these problems which are killing our people?"
Record Peanut Production by Farmers Using Mutants
Press Trust Of India, 17 August 2001
In a major breakthrough, several groundnut farmers in the western Indian state of Maharahshtra have achieved a record production of up to 10.5 tonnes per hectare this summer with the genetically improved varieties developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) situated near the state capital Mumbai.
The farmers who have achieved more than 10 times the national average of groundnut production (1.5 tonnes per hectare) are gearing up to break the Chinese record of 11.2 tonnes per hecatare (late varieties) in the next two years. "The achievement was possible simply by using genetically improved varieties (mutants) with innovative agricultural practices," one of the farmers M Ghuge from Parbhani told mediapersons here Thursday. "I achieved a production of 9.4 tonnes per hectare this summer using groundnut mutants TAG-24 and TG-26 developed by the Nuclear Agricultural Division of BARC. I used four main steps like high potential seed variety, good quality seeds capable of 90-95 germination, use of sprinkler irrigation and standard recommended fertiliser doses with micronutirents," Ghuge said.
Researchers Examine Feasibility of Wheat-Based Edible Vaccine
- Vaccine Weekly, 08 Aug 2001
Could vaccines ever be as simple and easy to receive as eating a piece of bread?
Two biology professors at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte believe it might be possible and are working to learn if wheat can be a means to administer vaccines for humans and animals. Professors Thomas L. Reynolds and Kenneth L. Bost have received research funding from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to determine if wheat can be grown with specific DNA that can help people and animals develop immunity to diseases. The biotechnology center awarded Reynolds and Bost $55,000 to conduct research over an 18-month period. The Foundation for the Carolinas also is funding the study.
The research project brings together researchers from two vastly different fields. Reynolds' area of research expertise is plant molecular biology/biotechnology. He has published extensively in the field and in 1999 became a consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organization, an agency of the United Nations. Bost is an internationally known immunologist. He studies the immune system and how it works to protect the body from pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and infectious diseases. The research project will begin in Bost's laboratory, where he is studying a particular herpesvirus that can cause a mononucleosis-like disease. Bost has been able to isolate individual genes of the virus in an effort to determine whether the proteins encoded by these genes might serve as vaccines.
Reynolds will take a specific gene of the herpesvirus and try to inject it into wheat seed. The key will be getting the viral DNA to become part of the chromosomal DNA of the wheat. If successful, he then will use the seed to grow new, transgenic wheat plants that will produce the viral protein. Bost will take the new, transgenic wheat and test it to determine if it can induce an immune response against the herpesvirus protein. The researchers are hopeful and believe their work could lead to a new delivery means for vaccines; one that is targeted at the point pathogens enter the body and cause problems.
"Vaccines today typically are administered through injections into muscle tissue. These vaccines are systemic, meaning they promote an immune response predominantly in the blood," Bost explained. "Pathogens, however, tend to enter the body through mucosal surfaces - through the nose, mouth, and those areas associated with sexually transmitted diseases. A vaccine delivered through a food item like wheat would be ingested in a similar way as many pathogens and would focus the immune response at mucosal sites where pathogens invade the body," he said.
Wheat as a vaccine transfer mechanism offers other potential benefits, Reynolds explained. "The shelf life of vaccines is always a consideration. Wheat is a highly stable substance. It stores easily and for long periods of time. It's also a staple of people's diets around the world. At the same time, the potential for animal and livestock vaccines is significant. Imagine if cattle could be protected from foot and mouth disease by simply eating a certain kind of wheat," Reynolds said.
The researchers describe their current research funding as seed money to get the program started. If their work proves successful, they will seek federal and/or corporate support. This article was prepared by Vaccine Weekly editors from staff and other reports. Copyright 2001, Vaccine Weekly via NewsRx.com & NewsRx.net.
From: Andrew Apel
Subject: Viral Transgenes
A Search For Evidence Of Virus/Transgene Interactions In Potatoes Transformed With The Potato Leafroll Virus Replicase and Coat Protein Genes
Author(S): Thomas Peter E Hassan S Kaniewski W K Lawson E C Zalewski J C
Interpretive Summary: A major effort is underway around the world to develop virus disease resistant crop plants by expression of viral genes in plants. This approach has produced resistance. However, concern has been expressed about potential interactions between viral transgenes or their products with viruses, both homologous and heterologous, that might infect the transgenic plant. These and other concerns have led to stringent pu blic regulation on environmental release of transgenic plants. The purpose of this work was to test experimentally the degree to which the potential for transgene/virus interactions in transgenic plants is actually realized with regard to specific interactions in potato plants transformed with specific CP or Rep gene constructs. These studies were extensive, and they did not detect evolution of new viruses in the transgenic potatoes, alterations in properties of viruses that commonly infect potato, infection of transgenic potatoes with viruses that do not infect the nontransgen
Contact: USDA-ARS, WSU-IAREC 24106 NORTH BUNN ROAD PROSSER WA 99350 FAX: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org TEKTRAN United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service
From: Mark Tepfer
Concerning the below, I wasn't aware that scientists could bar "Greenpeace and other environmental organizations from using his work to question the safety of transgenic seed". I naively thought that once published, an article could be interpreted by anyone. What's the legal basis here? is there any? Special law in Brazil?
- Mark, Laboratoire de Biologie Cellulaire, INRA-Versailles
>Belgian Bars NGOs from using the results of his studies
>- Ruth Helena Bellinghini, O Estado de Sao Paulo, (Brazil) August 18, ....
>news got. The author of the study, Belgian scientist Marc De Loose,
>barred Greenpeace and other environmental organizations from using
>his work to question the safety of transgenic seed. "We checked that
>From Prakash: I do not believe that researchers would have barred activists from using the work. In the process of translation from Portugese, the original intent may have been misrepresented here. It is more likely that Belgian researchers would have urged Greenpeace to be careful in interpreting their research when questioning the safety of the biotech soybean.
'AgBioView.....Selection from the Past..'
Global Governance: A Recipe for Global Protectionism
- Deepak Lal
Prof. Deepak Lal , an internationally acclaimed economist who holds a chair at UCLA, makes a philosophical analysis of the environmentalist movement. Lal offered an intriguing thesis that increasing reverence for nature and the ensuing eco-fundamentalism is a consequence of the "death of the Christian God." In other words, environmentalism movement has resulted from the void created by the decline of the religion. "The guilt evinced against sinning against God has been replaced by that of sinning against Nature. Saving Spaceship Earth has replaced the saving of souls!"
Prof. Lal's complete text of the speech appears at http://agbioworld.org/articles/deepak.html.
Excerpts appear below.
(This speech was given by Deepak Lal, professor of economics at UCLA, in Seattle, Washington, Nov. 29, 1999 at a CEI conference on "Ensuring Open Trade for Global Prosperity.")
"Numerous non-governmental organizations (NGO's) are currently in the forefront of various issues" .......... "they pose a serious threat to the prosperity of the peoples of the Third World. Thus the environmental NGO's are in the vanguard in attempting to stop growth (and the poverty alleviation it entails) in the Third World by seeking to limit their carbon emissions; the consumer NGO's -- not I hasten to add this one -- are seeking to prevent imports of goods from developing countries produced by means which do not meet their moral standards, in the name of ethical trading; the human rights NGO's are attempting to legislate a new extra-territorial principle based on western moral values categorized as 'human rights; the health NGO's have taken on a crusade against GM foods,which promise the same hope for the hungry of the world that the Green Revolution (which too was based on the genetic modification of plants) delivered in the last three decades".
"The rational arguments against most of their prescriptions have no resonance with these groups, even when they claim they are concerned with alleviating poverty. Some sense can be made of their views if it is realized that they are the latest manifestation of the various secular religions in the West once the Christian God died for so many after the Scientific and Darwinian revolutions".
.......... As I have argued elsewhere from the Enlightenment to Marxism to Freudianism to Eco-fundamentalism Augustine's vision of the Heavenly City has had a tenacious hold on the Western mind. ............. But once as a result of Darwin he was seen to be blind, as Neitzsche proclaimed from the housetops at the end of the 19th century, God was Dead, and the moral foundations of the West were thereafter in ruins.
"Marxism like the old faith looks to the past and the future. There is a Garden of Eden -- before "property" relations corrupted "natural man". Then the Fall as "commodification" leads to class societies and a continuing but impersonal conflict of material forces, which leads in turn to the Day of Judgment with the Revolution and the millennial Paradise of Communism. This movement towards earthly salvation being mediated, not as the Enlightenment sages had claimed through enlightenment and the preaching of good will, but by the inexorable forces of historical materialism. Another secular "city of God" has been created".
"Ecofundamentalism is the latest of these secular mutations of Augustine's "City of God" . It carries the Christian notion of contemptus mundi to its logical conclusion. Humankind is evil and only by living in harmony with a deified Nature can it be saved".
"The environmental movement (at least in its "deep" version) is now a secular religion in many parts of the West. The historian of the ecological movement Anna Bramwell notes that in the past Western Man was able to see the earth as man's unique domain precisely because of God's existence... When science took over the role of religion in the nineteenth century, the belief that God made the world with a purpose in which man was paramount declined. But if there was no purpose, how was man to live on the earth? The hedonistic answer, to enjoy it as long as possible, was not acceptable. If Man had become God, then he had become the shepherd of the earth, the guardian, responsible for the oekonomie of the earth.(Bramwell, p.23)"
"The spiritual and moral void created by the Death of God is, thus, increasingly being filled in the secular Western world by the worship of Nature. In a final irony, those haunted natural spirits which the medieval Church sought to exorcise so that the West could conquer its forests, are now being glorified and being placed above Man. The surrealist and anti-human nature of this contrast between eco-morality and what mankind has sought through its religions in the past is perfectly captured by Douglas and Wildavsky who write: "the sacred places of the world are crowded with pilgrims and worshippers. Mecca is crowded, Jerusalem is crowded. In most religions, people occupy the foreground of the thinking. The Sierra Nevada are vacant places, loved explicitly because they are vacant. So the environment has come to take first place"(p.125). The guilt evinced against sinning against God has been replaced by that of sinning against Nature. Saving Spaceship Earth has replaced the saving of souls!"
"Eco-fundamentalism and the other forms of ethical imperialisn are the inevitable mutant, which will continue to cause the world a good deal of grief for some time to come".